It happens to everyone, we are going about the day and then BOOM - you need another coffee, a nap or a snack. Nothing wrong with all 3 of these options, but why do so many of us feel so depleted in the afternoon? For the majority of us, it’s because of what we are eating and how we are fueling our bodies. There is a way to optimize our energy throughout the day and it can be done through our diets. What I want you to take away from this is the power to fuel yourself daily without questioning what you’re eating.
Let’s talk carbs. First off, not all carbs are created equal, there is a major difference between a sweet potato and a double stuffed cookie from the famous brand. When we eat the “right” carbs the body receives energy, facilitates healthy digestion - but when too many refined carbs are consumed, the body is at increased risk for inflammation and diseases.
Quick science lesson...
During digestion, carbs are broken down and absorbed in the bloodstream as glucose. Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells as a source of energy. So, depending on what you specifically need, the unused glucose is stored in the liver or converted to fat. So, if you’re eating a meal high in carbs - especially refined carbs - you’re giving your body more chances to store them as fat.
Carbs = energy. It’s a simple equation but confusing. If carbs are so often being turned into fat then how are they being used as energy? Simple carbohydrates are a sneaky energy source. Glucose, sugar (sucrose), dairy (lactose), fruit and honey (fructose) are all simple carbs and give the body a quick jolt of energy, later giving you the afternoon slump and skyrocketing our glucose levels. I want to make it clear that fruit is not the enemy! But too much fruit not paired with the right proteins and fats can give you a snoozy feeling post-lunch.
The winners for energy are complex carbs! They take longer to be broken down in the body, not causing the jolt of energy or the high rise in glucose (which often turns to fat storage). Great examples of complex carbs include…
Whole grains - quinoa, rice, wheat, oats
Beans and legumes
This Turkey Meatball Pasta Dish is full of GREAT carbs!
We can’t forget refined carbs…
Refined carbs are grains that have had some very important pieces removed to increase shelf life. The whole grain contains endosperm, bran and germ - but during the refining process the bran and germ are often removed for a pushed-out expiration date. Those two removed properties were the properties that aided in digestion, hormone regulation and fiber consumption. Since only the endosperm remains, the refined carb spikes glucose levels which can lead to an increased and quick hormone response. If this happens often bodies are taxed from the quick spikes and insulin sensitivity occurs (leads to Type 2 diabetes).
So enough with the science and let’s talk about what you can eat to promote energy and make your body chill with the fat storage and inflammation? Start your day with protein, fiber, fat and greens. I love a Be Well By Kelly smoothie and her Fab 4 philosophy. Basically, start your day with as little carbs as possible, fill your plate each meal with protein, fat and fiber rather than tons of carbs. Don’t be afraid of carbs, but focus on quality like whole wheat, quinoa, sweet potatoes, etc. Try a power bowl for lunch and it will keep you energized, full but most importantly satisfied.
Here are a couple recipes from my Pinterest that are full of "good" carbs! Click the image to go directly to the recipe link!